- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I’m sure you’ll join me when I say that I’m delighted whenever game police nab violators who believe they can do as they please while you and I obey the law.

After a five-year, complicated investigation, Pennsylvania game wardens nailed 22 people, charging them with 117 violations of the state’s game and wildlife code. I say, “Good show!”

Last month 40-year-old Matthew Ronald Baker, a Huntingdon County, Pa., deer processor, was found guilty before District Judge Richard Wilt of eight counts of illegal possession of deer and ordered to pay fines of $6,400 plus costs.

Baker’s violations were discovered when Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife officers conducted a deer biology data inspection of his business late last year. They found several missing carcass tags (processors and taxidermists must keep game tags on the animals), and it raised the interest of the wildlife cops even more because of previous reports that something fishy was happening at Baker’s plant.

“It was not the intent of our Special Investigations Division to become involved in a multi-year surveillance on this suspect,” said Greg Houghton, assistant director of the Bureau of Law Enforcement for the Game Commission. “However, once the inquiry began, the excessive and continuous violations at [the] business involving Baker and his acquaintances quickly expanded into other areas and at least one other business. This required the investigation to last as long as it did.”

Due to the amount of time it took to properly complete their investigation, Game Commission officers witnessed vast numbers of instances of illegal taking of various species of wildlife, plus other infractions. The violations included deer and protected birds, as well as infractions of the state Fish and Boat Code. On March 17, Conservation Officer Richard Danley Jr. filed 117 citations against Baker and others implicated in violations during the investigation. There were charges of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife; multiple counts of loaded firearms in vehicles; unlawful use of lights while hunting; three counts of buying and selling game animals, including the unlawful sale of protected birds and plumage.

The rest of the gang could receive heavy fines, revocation of hunting privileges, maybe time in the pokey.

Why is this guy still fishing? — I don’t understand why New Jersey bass fishing pro Michael Iaconelli is still allowed to fish in national bass competitions. After all, he recently had a snit during a nationally televised fishing tournament, ripped the boat’s stern light that carried the American flag from its socket, then willfully stomped on the light and the flag, infuriating people all over the country. Plenty of onlookers witnessed Iaconelli’s disgraceful behavior. Ranger Boats, which sponsored Iaconelli, immediately canceled his deal. Many people called for him to be barred from organized national competitions for life.

But here he was Sunday, accepting the winner’s check and trophy from the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) after the big Lake Guntersville event in Alabama. Incidentally, BASS is owned by the ESPN cable TV network. Maybe ESPN doesn’t care how competitors behave in tournaments it runs.

Waterfowl blind licensing — Maryland’s Wildlife and Heritage Service is accepting applications for shoreline hunting blind licenses from owners of riparian (waterfront) property. Anyone owning riparian property or persons who have permission from the property owner can license their shoreline for the purpose of establishing stationary blinds or blind sites for hunting waterfowl. All applications and fees must be submitted by mail or in person and received by the close of business June 1.

Riparian property owners can license their shorelines for one year ($20) or three years ($60). Landowners who miss the deadline may participate in the “competitive” licensing process that begins Aug. 1. Applications and information about licensing is available at www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/riparian.html, or call 410/260-8540.

EVENTS

Sporting Clays Classic — May 6, registration begins at 9 a.m., 100 target shoot begins at 9:30. This third annual sporting clays event benefits the National Kidney Foundation. It will be at the Pintail Point Resort, Queenstown, on Marylands Eastern Shore. The Classic is a four-person team competition over a 17-station sporting clays course. Rental shotguns and instructions are available. Cost: $250 a shooter, or $1,000 a team. (Includes shells. lunch and post-shoot awards with cocktail reception. Information: www.kidneywdc.org/sporting_clays.cfm.

Carolina surf fishing school — May 18-21, in Nags Head, N.C. Joe Malat’s Outer Banks Surf Fishing School begins at the Comfort Inn South in Nags Head, then moves to the fabled beaches of the Outer Banks where you will learn how to cast, use baits, lures, tie knots and learn the intricacies of surf fishing. The $275 fee covers classroom materials, lunch, evening social, door prizes and needed baits. Information: Joe Malat, 252/441-4767, or Mac Currin, 919/881-0049. Information: www.joemalat.com.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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